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IAVA Daily News Brief – December 12, 2014

Today’s Top Stories

Veterans groups call for action on wounded soldiers’ complaints
Two of the nationís largest veterans organizations are calling for Congress and the Pentagon to address the mistreatment of wounded soldiers in the Armyís Warrior Transition Units ó a problem that came to light in a joint investigation by The Dallas Morning News and KXAS-TV (NBC5). | The Dallas Morning  News >>

Hearing: Homelessness among veterans is declining, but goal remains elusive
Veteran homelessness has been reduced 33 percent since 2009, but there is still a long way to go before the U.S. reaches ìfunctional zero,î Congressmen and veteran service providers said Thursday in a hearing on Capitol Hill. | Stars and Stripes >>

Active duty suicides increase in 2014: report
More active duty service members have committed suicide in the first half of 2014 than over the same time period last year, according to a Defense Department report released Thursday. | Washington Times >>

Afghanistan

The Department of Defense said Thursday that it had shuttered the last American detention facility in Afghanistan, bringing to an end a controversial practice of holding prisoners in the country without trial. | TIME >>

A teenage suicide bomber attacked a French-run high school in Kabul on Thursday, walking into a packed auditorium during a theater performance and killing a German citizen, Afghan officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying the performance underway was immoral. | Associated Press >>

A suicide bomber killed six Afghan soldiers in an attack on a military minibus on Thursday, officials said, in the first attack in the capital Kabul for more than a week. | Associated Press >>

Iraq

Islamic Stateís rise is dividing Iraqís Sunni minority, pitting tribes loyal to the militant group against those who support the government and, in some cases, cleaving tribes apart from within. | Wall Street Journal >>

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a measure Thursday authorizing the use of military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) but barring the use of ground troops. | The Hill >>

Very little is known about the Islamic State leader who is often compared to Osama bin Laden and has been called “the world’s most dangerous man.” But an interview with a jihadist who was reportedly jailed with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi a decade ago sheds more light on the mysterious figure and how the Islamic State was born from a US-run prison in southern Iraq. | Business Insider >>

Military Affairs

The Army recorded the smallest number of accidental soldier deaths in fiscal year 2013 since it started tracking the statistic in 1975. Last fiscal year, the figure went even lower, dropping from 136 to 127. | Army Times >>

It looks like a fish, sort of. It swims like a fish, again, if you squint. It’s even named after a fish — OK, a Disney one. Navy war toy creators are hoping that’s enough to get the little swimmer into unwelcoming territory undetected to spy on enemies and protect U.S. ships and ports from harm. | Stars and Stripes >>

The Army and Navyís college football teams square off Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, renewing a rivalry that dates back to 1890 and includes a whole lot of of inter-service trash talk. Perhaps itís no surprise, then, that even senior service leaders would get involved in a series of spirited and occasionally ridiculous ìspirit videosî ahead of the big game. There are many of them, ranging from the awkward to the hilarious, and the production value on them are frequently high. | Washington Post >>

The Pentagon says the Navy will upgrade its troubled littoral combat ship program and build a more lethal fighting vessel that can better survive today’s volatile security threats. | Stars and Stripes  >>

New Greatest Generation

Last year, my co-worker Emma called to let me know she was driving away from Walter Reed for the very last time. She had just resigned. She thought she would feel sadness or have pangs of remorse. But instead she had just felt relieved. It was over. Emma and I worked together as physical therapists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and then later its reincarnation, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, for nine years. | New York Times >>

In the middle of protecting civilian transports during the war in Iraq with danger and chaos around every corner, Andrew Rondeau never dreamed he might someday enjoy the quiet and solitude of farm life in rural Wisconsin. But at age 32 with 13 years of serving in the Army behind him, thatís exactly where heís heading. | River Falls Journal >>

A cheering crowd served as a welcome surprise for 12 wounded combat veterans as they arrived at San Angelo Regional Airport on Thursday. | San Angelo Standard-Times >>

Inside Washington

A leadership round of musical chairs has put an Iraq War veteran in charge of the House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel for the first time, and South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson in charge of the intelligence subcommittee. | Navy Times >>

A Dec. 31 deadline is looming for interpreters — and other Afghans who aided Americans — to apply for 1,000 new visas. U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-Worcester) is pushing to extend that deadline a full year and add more visas. To date, about 13,000 visas have been handed out to Afghan nationals since 2009 when the visa program started. | Boston Herald >>

The Army Corps of Engineers, not the Department of Veterans Affairs, will continue to oversee the new hospital construction project in Aurora, according to a spokesperson with the office of Republican Congressman Mike Coffman. | ABC 7 Denver >>

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